Archive for the ‘fieldday’ Category
A VISUAL + AUDIO AIR CHECK OF DIGITAL MODE FT8 QSOs, ON THE 30-METER BAND
Here is a video capture of the reception and transmission of many digital FT8-mode amateur radio high-frequency (HF; Shortwave) communication signals. This video is a front-seat view of the software operation performed at the radio room of amateur radio operator, NW7US, Tomas Hood.
The software packages demonstrated are installed and operational on a modern personal computer. The computer is connected to an Icom IC-7610 radio transceiver, controlled by the software. While there is no narration in the video, the video provides an opportunity for you to see first-hand how typical FT8 operations are performed. The signals can be heard.
The frequency used for the FT8 communication in this video is on or about 10.136 MHz, in the 30-Meter shortwave amateur radio allocation (or, band). As can be seen, the 30-Meter band was active at this time of day (0720 UTC, onward–local nighttime).
In this video you see (and hear) NW7US make two-way contacts, or QSOs, with stations from around the country and the world.
There are amateur radio operators within the amateur radio community who regard the FT8 digital mode (FT8 stands for “Franke-Taylor design, 8-FSK modulation“, and refers to the mode created by Joe Taylor, K1JT and Steve Franke, K9AN) as robotic (automatic, automated, and unattended) computer-to-computer communications, and not ‘true’ human communications–thus negating the spirit of ham radio. In other words, FT8, in their opinion, is not real amateur radio. While they pontificate about supposed automated computer communications, many of those holding this position have not installed and configured the software, nor tried communicating with the FT8 digital mode. They have perhaps formed their anti-FT8 opinion in a vacuum of knowledge. (This writer has other issues with FT8, but not on this point–see below)
As you watch the video linked in this article, consider these concepts:
+ A QSO is defined (as per common knowledge–see below) as the exchange of at least the minimum information needed as set by the requirements of a particular award, or, as is defined by law–for instance, a QSO would have at least an exchange of the legal call sign assigned to the radio station and/or control operator, the location of the station making the transmission, and a signal report of some kind about the signal received from the other transmitter at the other end of the QSO.
+ Just how much human involvement is required to make a full FT8 QSO? Does WSJT-X software run all by itself, with no human control? Is WSJT-X a robot, in the sense that it picks a frequency, then initiates or answers a CQ call automatically, or is it just powerful digital-mode software that still requires human control?
The video was captured from the screen of the PC running the following software packages interacting together as a system:
+ WSJT-X: The primary software featuring the digital mode, FT8. (See below for some background on WSJT-X software.)
+ JTAlert: Provides several audio and visual alert types based on decoded Callsigns within WSJT-X.
+ Log4OM, Version 2: A full-featured logging program, which integrates well with WSJT-X and JTAlert.
+ Win4IcomSuite: A full-featured radio controlling program which can remote control rigs, and provide control through virtual communication port-sharing.
+ Com0Com: The Null-modem emulator allows you to create an unlimited number of virtual COM port pairs and use any pair to connect one COM port based application to another. Each COM port pair provides two COM ports. The output to one port is the input from other port and vice versa.
As mentioned, above, the radio used for the communication of FT8 at the station, NW7US, is an Icom IC-7610 transceiver. The antenna is an off-center fed dipole that is over 200 feet in total length (end-to-end measurement).
WSJT-X is a computer program used for weak-signal radio communication between amateur radio operators, or used by Shortwave Radio Listeners (SWLers; SWL) interested in monitoring the FT8 digital communications between amateur radio operators. The program was initially written by Joe Taylor, K1JT with Steve Franke, K9AN, but is now open source and is developed by a small team. The digital signal processing techniques in WSJT-X make it substantially easier for amateur radio operators to employ esoteric propagation modes, such as high-speed meteor scatter and moonbounce.
WSJT-X implements communication protocols or “modes” called FST4, FST4W, FT4, FT8, JT4, JT9, JT65, Q65, MSK144, and WSPR, as well as one called Echo for detecting and measuring your own radio signals reflected from the Moon. These modes were all designed for making reliable, confirmed QSOs under extreme weak-signal conditions. JT4, JT9, and JT65 use nearly identical message structure and source encoding (the efficient compression of standard messages used for minimal QSOs). They use timed 60-second Transmit/Rreceive (T/R) sequences synchronized with UTC (Universal Time, Coordinated). JT4 and JT65 were designed for Earth-Moon-Earth communications (EME, or, moonbounce) on the Very-High Frequency (VHF), Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) and microwave bands. JT9 is optimized for the Medium-Frequency (MF) and High-Frequency (HF) bands. It is about 2 dB more sensitive than JT65 while using less than 10% of the bandwidth. Q65 offers submodes with a wide range of T/R sequence lengths and tone spacings.FT4 and FT8 are operationally similar but use T/R cycles only 7.5 and 15 seconds long, respectively. MSK144 is designed for Meteor Scatter on the VHF bands. These modes offer enhanced message formats with support for nonstandard call signs and some popular contests. (The MSK in MSK144 stands for, Multiple Frequency Shift Keying.)
FST4 and FST4W are designed particularly for the Low-Frequency (LF) and MF bands. On these bands, their fundamental sensitivities are better than other WSJT-X modes with the same sequence lengths, approaching the theoretical limits for their rates of information throughput. FST4 is optimized for two-way QSOs, while FST4W is for quasi-beacon transmissions of WSPR-style messages. FST4 and FST4W do not require the strict, independent time synchronization and phase locking of modes like EbNaut.
As described more fully on its own page, WSPR mode implements a protocol designed for probing potential propagation paths with low-power transmissions. WSPR is fully implemented within WSJT-X, including programmable band-hopping.
What is a QSO?
Under the title, CONTACTS, at the Sierra Foothills Amateur Radio Club’s 2014 Technician Class webpage, https://www.hsdivers.com/Ham/Mod15.html, they teach,
An amateur radio contact (called a QSO), is an exchange of info between two amateur radio stations. The exchange usually consists of an initial call (CQ = call to all stations). Then, a response from another amateur radio operator, and usually at least a signal report.
Contacts can be limited to just a minimal exchange of call signs & signal reports generally between amateurs previously unknown to each other. Very short contacts are usually done only during contests while longer, extended ‘rag chews’ may be between newly met friends with some common interest or someone you have known for a long time.
Wikipedia has an entry for QSO, too.
My Issue With FT8 and WSJT-X
I have written in the past, on this website, about an issue that came about during the course of the development of the WSJT-X software package. The development team decided to widen the slice of ‘default’ (pre-programmed) frequencies on which to operate FT8. The issue was how the choice of new frequencies was made, and what choices were implemented in an upcoming software release. Read more about all of this, in these three articles:
Has this issue been resolved? For now, yes. There appears to be more coordination between interested groups, and the proposed new frequencies were removed from the software defaults in WSJT-X. At least, up to this point, at the time of publishing this article.
This is my reply to many responses that I have been receiving on my original blog entry, located at this AmateurRadio.com website,(my shortened URL: https://g.nw7us.us/arrl2fccR2) as well as to the original video, posted in that blog entry.
I wish to reply to all of those who are against the idea of expanding the privileges of the Technician-class licensee, the expansions including the ability to operate Voice and Digital in limited slices in a subset of lower-than-Ten-Meter amateur radio shortwave allocations.
It seems to me, that…
…the issue is not one of Technician-class licensees wanting more privileges, as a whole. What the ARRL is addressing is the *lack* of desire by most current Techs to upgrade.
The logic behind the idea of expanding privileges concludes that if you give them a taste of lower-shortwave propagation and excitement (by moving past the CW-only restriction on the lower tech allocations), then they *will* want to upgrade.
This logic is already proven as applicable by the fact that the General class exists! All that this proposal will do is allow the Tech to experience what could be very attractive–just like for the General. If it worked in the past with Novice, Technician, General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra (exposing to all of HF, even if by way of a CW-only requirement), then it will work, now. The difference is that the CW-only requirement on lower HF bands is highly restrictive because the mode is no longer needed to operate on any frequency, and, most will not take the time to learn it just to see if they WANT to explore the lower HF bands, or ever upgrade.
The bottom line is that we should make the Tech ticket more relevant. The expansion is not dumbing down, nor does it give away the farm.
I discuss this original point in the two videos that were lower down in the original post:
Thanks for reading, watching the videos, and having a useful dialog about this very important change to the amateur radio regulations in the USA.
That aside: This may, in the long term, reveal one of two possible truths:
1. There is no real need for three license classes. Two would suffice. General and Amateur Extra, or Technician (merged with General) and Amateur Extra.
2. There is no real need for three license classes. One would suffice. Make the test hard enough to cover the Extra-class material, and all material under that class, and merge everyone into one tested class. I believe that this has been tried in other countries, and it appears to work well.
I’ll be crucified for stating those ideas, but, hey, this is just a hobby.
I’m sure that you have heard of NPOTA, National Parks On The Air, and SOTA, Summits On The Air, and probably even POTA, Parks On The Air, The US program for the World Wide Flora and Fauna, but have you heard of the latest event that starts on Sunday, Dec 11, 2017?
Starting at 0000 UTC time on December 11, 2017 the new year long event celebrating multiple anniversaries for the NASA program will start. It is called NOTA or NASA On The Air.
With several NASA clubs doing several special event stations of the coming year, they decided to make a year long event where you, as the end user, can contact the stations to earn points through the year. You can even gets points during other events like Winter Field Day, the ARRL Field Day and others.
Losten to my latest podcast episode where I talk with Rob Suggs about it:
The biggest hamfest is over, but the biggest ham radio on the air event is quickly approaching! Yes I am talking about Field Day 2017! Back in episode 67, I had Ian on and we talked about PSK31. During that interview he mentioned that he was the Field Day Chair for his radio club, the North Fulton Amateur Radio League, so I asked him to come back and talk to us about Field Day.
We had a great conversation about what Field Day is, some general information about it, what its like to be the Field Day Chairperson and be in charge of planning the event for your club and wrap it up with things that his club does during Field Day and what goes on afterwards.
Check out the show notes of this episode for more information about things that we talk about, links that we mention and probably some that we didn’t. The show notes can be found at:
What is the proper (and most efficient) technique for creating Morse code by hand, using a manual Morse code key? Ham radio operators find Morse code (and the ‘CW’ mode, or ‘Continuous Wave’ keying mode) very useful, even though Morse code is no longer required as part of the licensing process. Morse code is highly effective in weak-signal radio work. And, preppers love Morse code because it is the most efficient way to communicate when there is a major disaster that could wipe out the communications infrastructure.
While this military film is antique, the vintage information is timeless, as the material is applicable to Morse code, even today.
More about Morse code, at my website: http://cw.hfradio.org
Thank you for watching, commenting, and most of all, for subscribing. By subscribing, you will be kept in the loop for new videos and more… my YouTube Channel: https://YouTube.com/NW7US
See my Video Playlist for related Morse code vidoes:
Space Weather. The Sun-Earth Connection. Ionospheric radio propagation. Solar storms. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). Solar flares and radio blackouts. All of these topics are interrelated for the amateur radio operator, especially when the activity involves the shortwave, or high-frequency, radiowave spectrum.
Learning about space weather and radio signal propagation via the ionosphere aids you in gaining a competitive edge in radio DX contests. Want to forecast the radio propagation for the next weekend so you know whether or not you should attend to the Honey-do list, or declare a radio day?
In the last ten years, amazing technological advances have been made in heliophysics research and solar observation. These advances have catapulted the amateur radio hobbyist into a new era in which computer power and easy access to huge amounts of data assist in learning about, observing, and forecasting space weather and to gain an understanding of how space weather impacts shortwave radio propagation, aurora propagation, and so on.
I hope to start “blogging” here about space weather and the propagation of radio waves, as time allows. I hope this finds a place in your journey of exploring the Sun-Earth connection and the science of radio communication.
With that in mind, I’d like to share some pretty cool science. Even though the video material in this article are from 2010, they provide a view of our Sun with the stunning solar tsunami event:
On August 1, 2010, the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple plasma-filled filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more!
At approximately 0855 UTC on August 1, 2010, a C3.2 magnitude soft X-ray flare erupted from NOAA Active Sunspot Region 11092 (we typically shorten this by dropping the first digit: NOAA AR 1092).
At nearly the same time, a massive filament eruption occurred. Prior to the filament’s eruption, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) AIA instruments revealed an enormous plasma filament stretching across the sun’s northern hemisphere. When the solar shock wave triggered by the C3.2-class X-ray explosion plowed through this filament, it caused the filament to erupt, sending out a huge plasma cloud.
In this movie, taken by SDO AIA at several different Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) wavelengths such as the 304- and 171-Angstrom wavelengths, a cooler shock wave can be seen emerging from the origin of the X-ray flare and sweeping across the Sun’s northern hemisphere into the filament field. The impact of this shock wave may propelled the filament into space.
This movie seems to support this analysis: Despite the approximately 400,000 kilometer distance between the flare and the filament eruption, they appear to erupt together. How can this be? Most likely they’re connected by long-range magnetic fields (remember: we cannot see these magnetic field lines unless there is plasma riding these fields).
In the following video clip, taken by SDO AIA at the 304-Angstrom wavelength, a cooler shock wave can be seen emerging from the origin of the X-ray flare and sweeping across the sun’s northern hemisphere into the filament field. The impact of this shock wave propelled the filament into space. This is in black and white because we’re capturing the EUV at the 304-Angstrom wavelength, which we cannot see. SDO does add artificial color to these images, but the raw footage is in this non-colorized view.
The followling video shows this event in the 171-Angstrom wavelength, and highlights more of the flare event:
The following related video shows the “resulting” shock wave several days later. Note that this did NOT result in anything more than a bit of aurora seen by folks living in high-latitude areas (like Norway, for instance).
This fourth video sequence (of the five in the first video shown in this article) shows a simulation model of real-time passage of the solar wind. In this segment, the plasma cloud that was ejected from this solar tsunami event is seen in the data and simulation, passing by Earth and impacting the magnetosphere. This results in the disturbance of the geomagnetic field, triggering aurora and ionospheric depressions that degrade shortwave radio wave propagation.
At about 2/3rd of the way through, UTC time stamp 1651 UTC, the shock wave hits the magnetosphere.
This is a simulation derived from satellite data of the interaction between the solar wind, the earth’s magnetosphere, and earth’s ionosphere. This triggered aurora on August 4, 2010, as the geomagnetic field became stormy (Kp was at or above 5).
While this is an amazing event, a complex series of eruptions involving most of the visible surface of the sun occurred, ejecting plasma toward the Earth, the energy that was transferred by the plasma mass that was ejected by the two eruptions (first, the slower-moving coronal mass ejection originating in the C-class X-ray flare at sunspot region 1092, and, second, the faster-moving plasma ejection originating in the filament eruption) was “moderate.” This event, especially in relationship with the Earth through the Sun-Earth connection, was rather low in energy. It did not result in any news-worthy events on Earth–no laptops were fried, no power grids failed, and the geomagnetic activity level was only moderate, with limited degradation observed on the shortwave radio spectrum.
This “Solar Tsunami” is actually categorized as a “Moreton wave”, the chromospheric signature of a large-scale solar coronal shock wave. As can be seen in this video, they are generated by solar flares. They are named for American astronomer, Gail Moreton, an observer at the Lockheed Solar Observatory in Burbank who spotted them in 1959. He discovered them in time-lapse photography of the chromosphere in the light of the Balmer alpha transition.
Moreton waves propagate at a speed of 250 to 1500 km/s (kilometers per second). A solar scientist, Yutaka Uchida, has interpreted Moreton waves as MHD fast-mode shock waves propagating in the corona. He links them to type II radio bursts, which are radio-wave discharges created when coronal mass ejections accelerate shocks.
I will be posting more of these kinds of posts, some of them explaining the interaction between space weather and the propagation of radio signals.
The fourth video segment is used by written permission, granted to NW7US by NICT. The movie is [email protected], Japan. The rest of the video is courtesy of SDO/AIA and NASA. Music is courtesy of YouTube, from their free-to-use music library. Video copyright, 2015, by Tomas Hood / NW7US. All rights reserved.
Watch this video on a large screen. (It is HD). Discuss. Share.
This video features stunning clips of the Sun, captured by SDO from each of the five years since SDO’s deployment in 2010. In this movie, watch giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the Sun’s surface.
April 21, 2015 marks the five-year anniversary of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) First Light press conference, where NASA revealed the first images taken by the spacecraft. Since then, SDO has captured amazingly stunning super-high-definition images in multiple wavelengths, revealing new science, and captivating views.
February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole Sun 24 hours a day. February 11, 2010, was the day on which NASA launched an unprecedented solar observatory into space. The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) flew up on an Atlas V rocket, carrying instruments that scientists hoped would revolutionize observations of the Sun.
Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the Sun grow and erupt. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.
The imagery in this “highlight reel” provide us with examples of the kind of data that SDO provides to scientists. By watching the sun in different wavelengths (and therefore different temperatures, each “seen” at a particular wavelength that is invisible to the unaided eye) scientists can watch how material courses through the corona. SDO captures images of the Sun in 10 different wavelengths, each of which helps highlight a different temperature of solar material. Different temperatures can, in turn, show specific structures on the Sun such as solar flares or coronal loops, and help reveal what causes eruptions on the Sun, what heats the Sun’s atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface, and why the Sun’s magnetic fields are constantly on the move.
Coronal loops are streams of solar material traveling up and down looping magnetic field lines). Solar flares are bursts of light, energy and X-rays. They can occur by themselves or can be accompanied by what’s called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, in which a giant cloud of solar material erupts off the Sun, achieves escape velocity and heads off into space.
This movie shows examples of x-ray flares, coronal mass ejections, prominence eruptions when masses of solar material leap off the Sun, much like CMEs. The movie also shows sunspot groups on the solar surface. One of these sunspot groups, a magnetically strong and complex region appearing in mid-January 2014, was one of the largest in nine years as well as a torrent of intense solar flares. In this case, the Sun produced only flares and no CMEs, which, while not unheard of, is somewhat unusual for flares of that size. Scientists are looking at that data now to see if they can determine what circumstances might have led to flares eruptions alone.
Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space as well as on Earth (disrupting shortwave communication, stressing power grids, and more). Additionally, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy.
Goddard built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program. The program’s goal is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.